kids

"They were not ready." 10 women on how they introduced their kids to their new partner.

When I was 10, I met my mum's new partner for the first time.

We sat in a parking lot, sipping hot chocolate in the dead of winter. His breath? Smelly. His voice? Grating. His idea of impressing the child of his partner? Pinching my cheeks and ears, and telling me how squishy I was. 

In his defence, introductions are never easy – but they are incredibly vital to the longevity of a relationship, so it was pretty important for him to nail it the first time, and he just... didn't. 

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Reflecting on my whole mum-partner-me meeting made me pretty curious to find out how and when other parents introduced their children to a new love interest.

So I asked our wider Mamamia community to share their own personal stories, and whether it was a positive experience or not. Here's what they had to say.

Lucy, aged 41.

What's your relationship story? We had been going out for a few months and the kids were keen to meet him. My kids were 11 and 13 at the time. I had been talking about him since the fairly early days. We chose an activity that would be fun, but didn't require awkward silence and stilted conversations.

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? We moved on to dinner at my place and both kids were comfortable enough to fart in front of him at the dinner table! We took it slowly, and I talked to them as it went on. He has now moved in with us and the transition has been really easy, and the fondness for each other is blossoming. I'm a happy mum! 

I hid stuff about dating and relationships previously and the kids said they would've preferred me to tell them. My 13-year-old girl was desperate for me to tell her all the gossip about the dates!

What's your advice for other parents? Go slow... be confident about the longevity before bringing the kids into it. I don't think you need to tell about every date you go on, but letting them know at an age-appropriate level about people you want to bring into your life is healthy.

Naomi*, aged 32.

What's your relationship story? Around the time of them all meeting, my kids were 12 months old and five years old. My youngest has only ever known my now-husband as his dad and my oldest son has accepted him into our lives and we're all happy eight years later. 

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How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? It helps, I think, that they didn't and still do not have any relationship with their biological father. I waited a month or so before my eldest son met him – basically until I felt comfortable. They met at a friend's party and he was seen as just another person that was there. 

Then they officially met him as 'mum's boyfriend' at a park and away from our home. I was a fish out of water, as I’d never introduced men to my children ever before. I must have done something right, as they’re all really close now!

What's your advice for other parents? Making it less of a one-on-one meeting and a more group meeting with others first and then slowly begin introducing them in small increments. Definitely no sleepovers! At least for a little while. 

Sophie, aged 45.

What's your relationship story? My 16-year-old daughter was not very happy meeting my partner, Steve, for the first time. It had always been just the two of us, so for a man to enter the picture was something different. Steve's daughter, 17-year-old, Stella, was also feeling a similar way. 

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? We all met one another properly at a dinner Steve and I had organised in Darling Harbour in Sydney. It was somewhere public and over food, which we thought would make things easier. But unfortunately, we didn't really gel at all that first time. Neither one of our daughters were at all happy after that dinner. 

We thought meeting over dinner in a public place would work well. We could chat about the food, the scenery and also figured we could make a move to go home early if things were awkward, rather than having it at one of our houses, as that's harder to make a move to leave. Also, it was less stressful if no one had to cook!

What's your advice for other parents? We waited 10 months before introducing our kids into the picture. I think this was a great timeframe, and I would recommend not to have a perfect perception of the first time everyone meets – be more realistic with expectations. It's a challenging thing for kids. 

Lily, aged 34.

What's your relationship story? My kids were five years old and two years old when they met my partner. I was incredibly apprehensive as my youngest had never needed to 'share' me, but my oldest was so excited.

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? It was very informal. My new partner just had to roll with our plans.

What's your advice for other parents? Wait until you know or think your kids are ready. I waited two years and I do not regret it. There were so many people who said that the meeting should have happened sooner, but truthfully, it's about your kids and your relationship, so you know what is best.

Angela, aged 42.

What's your relationship story? We had been dating for a few months before I introduced my four teenage children to my new partner.

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How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? At the time, my kids were aged 13, 15, 17 and 19. I won't lie, it was a mixed bag in terms of reactions. A few of them were not bothered, but one of my kids was extremely pissed off. I had to talk to him beforehand and let them know about my partner and his family, and explain just what he meant to me. 

We had dinner with my kids, and then he and I left to go dancing, so they had time and space to process the meeting without us being there. 

What's your advice for other parents? Don’t hide that you’re dating, so it will not be a huge surprise. Remember, you also deserve happiness and your kids do not get to dictate if you date or not. 

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Candy, aged 36.

What's your relationship story? My two kids were super happy to meet my new partner. He is very good with kids as he has a child himself. He got down on the floor and played cars with my son and he responded very positively to him. 

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? I had talked about my partner with my son prior and I had prepped him for his visit prior to him coming over. I made sure we didn't kiss/cuddle in front of him for the first few meets as I thought that would be too confronting. I introduced him to my son as a friend. 

What's your advice for other parents? Introduce your new partner to your child when YOU feel the time is right, not other people. I knew early on that this person was my forever person, so it was easy to decide after a couple of months together to introduce him to my son. 

Di, 49

What's your relationship story? We were a couple that didn't last but I had known him for over a decade, and so did my kids who were 11 and 10, along with my twin girls who were six years old – yes, four girls! 

Because I had known him before we pursued a relationship, it felt very easy for me to bring them into my girls' world as a partner rather than a friend. I thought my kids loved him, but once it became clear to my oldest that we were dating, she was not happy.

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? It wasn't good. My youngest twins were okay with him, but they loved their dad, so they naturally assumed it was a competition. My two oldest girls were furious. They thought he was peculiar because he was Latin, had a thick accent, and was extremely affectionate due to his upbringing. At first, I thought it might have had something to do with jealousy, as their father was very intent on making me out to look like a cheater even though we had split amicably. 

But I think, upon reflection (this situation was over 10 years ago), they were not ready for another father figure in their lives. They were good kids who had very bad reactions to my former partner. I don't blame them for being kids, but they still look back at that relationship and make jokes at my expense since I am now remarried to my kid's father. 

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What's your advice for other parents? Just be sure. BE SURE. It is very nerve-wracking to introduce children to a new partner, and I did not do it again despite dating a few men I liked very much. It's scary, but if it is the right partner, then I promise it is worth it. 

Mandy, aged 48.

What's your relationship story? My kids were aged 10 and seven at the time, and we had been dating for six months prior to the initial meeting. 

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? It was wonderful. He was introduced as a friend and we went to a theme park. My friend bought lollies and asked the boys if they wanted to share. We didn't spend a night together whilst the boys were with me until they were comfortable and had formed a friendship with him. 

What's your advice for other parents? Take your time. Your kids are the most important part of your life. Show them your friendship first before being overly affectionate in front of them. Listen to them and their concerns. 

Peta, aged 46.

What's your relationship story? We had been dating for a few months before I introduced my kids.

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? They loved him immediately. They’d never had a father figure around regularly and I made sure to make the meeting only about them. We went to the beach and just let them be kids. Then had dinner at a hotel. It was so easy and so special.

What's your advice for other parents? Only you will know what will work for your children. Mine were so receptive to meeting him and it just worked. If you think your children are not ready, don’t push it. You do not want them resenting you or your partner! 

Nic, aged 34.

What's your relationship story? My kids, who were aged three, six and seven, had known my partner as I had casually introduced him as a friend six months before the proper meeting.

How did your kids react to meeting your new partner? It was really positive. The kids felt comfortable around him and knew him already. When I introduced him as my partner, they were cool with it as they already had the relationship with him.

What's your advice for other parents? Take it slow, there’s no rush. Kids change the dynamics of a relationship massively and when you are a single parent, you also have to navigate the relationship between your partner and your children, as well as the feelings of a new partnership. It's challenging but in time, it’s also beautiful.

*Some names have been changed for privacy.

Feature Image: Getty / Mamamia.

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